LINA DAC File Streaming & Storage Recommendation

Morning

I’m looking for some advice on how best to set up WAV files & storage ahead of my LINA DAC being delivered next month.

I have my music stored on an iMac Pro at the moment & was planning on using Apple Airplay to stream the files directly to the LINA over WiFi but wonder if a dedicated NAS connected to the LINA/WiFi router via ethernet/USB would be a more stable/better connection?

Any help would be appreciated, thanks,

I would recommend a Roon device connected to the Lina via Ethernet and the router. You can use your iMac as the Roon device but it’s better if you can use a dedicated device like the Roon Nucleus (but there are other options too).

Then you can use the iMac or any other device (like a iPhone) to control Roon.

If you’ve never used Roon, it’s great!

dCS recommends Ethernet over USB.

AirPlay will limit your files to “CD quality.”

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I heartily second the Roon recommendation!
I built an Intel NUC which is a tiny little music server. You could also buy a Roon Nucleus or similar device.
For sure some of the best money I’ve spent in over 30 years of hifi.

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Thanks for this recommendation. I was unaware of the Airplay WiFi streaming limitation so ethernet it is.

I understand your question. Here are some quick considerations, from my rather long experience with what was once called “computer audio”.

You have to separate the thinking about where to stock your files and how to manage them — i.e. library management — from how to listen to your music files.

About library management :

  • it can be done on a Mac ;
  • the files can be either on an attached drive or a NAS ;
  • my advice for files management would be to use an application like JRiver ; it has a certain learning curve and it’s not 100 % MacOS friendly, but once you’ve got the grasp of it, it’s hands down the best software for music files management and metadata editing. IMHO anyway.
    • You can even rip CDs directly into the library.
    • It works with an attached drive as well as with files on a NAS.
  • If you stock your files on a NAS, you have the added benefit that they will be accessible for different devices on your network — any network player, your TV, your phone, tablet, etc.

About playing music files:

  • The “officially recommended best solution” — i.e. the only one recommended and endorsed by dCS themselves — is using Mosaic software to configure your dCS gear(s) and to pilot the reading/playing from a MinimServer :
    • You can install and get MinimServer running on a Mac; it can work either with an attached hard drive or with music files on a NAS.
    • However, it seems like the best/easiest solution is to run MinimServer directly on a NAS — a Synology for example.
    • I’ve read no one, nowhere, saying that it has found a better sounding solution. So…
  • Next solution would be Roon software. There are people who say that it sounds as good as the MinimServer solution and I would say — with the vast majority of the members of this forum, I think — that it can sound either the same or very, very close behind.
  • BUT, the sound quality of Roon software is hardware dependent, no matter what one may think about “bits being bits”. Having it run on a dedicated server definitely sounds better — I dare say it — than running it on a iMac or a MacMini — I mean the Roon Core.
    • There seems to be a consensus on this forum about the Roon Nucleus being a good balance between convenience and SQ. But it comes with a price tag…
    • In all truth, I haven’t tested a Roon Core running on a M1 Mac, only on Intel iMac and Intel Mini. Maybe it could bring the SQ on par with a Roon Nucleus ? I don’t know → to be evaluated.
  • About Aiplay : it doesn’t provide the highest sound quality, even in 16/44. BUT it’s a most welcome convenience permitting to listen, for example, to the Digital Concert Hall ( Berliner Philharmoniker archives and live concerts), iDagio to discover classical music or “relaxed background listening”, etc. I can assure you that a concert from the Digital Concert Hall played on an iPad Pro 12.9" and streamed into a Bartók or a Rossini is absolutely breathtaking ! I absolutely beg dCS to never let down this possibility, even if it’s not the last word in sound quality !
  • Let’s not forget that you can also connect a CD transport or a server à la Aurender or Innuos. But it takes a lot of money to bring it on par with network listening, and even more to better it ! In the case of a CD/SACD transport, we are talking about something like a Rossini Transport + cables, i.e. around 30’000 (GBP/USD/Euros). And in the case of an Aurender server, it’s not garanted that even a 20 K solution would be on par with listnening from a MinimServer.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity for this brief recap. I think we could maybe open a dedicated thread in case someone would have much to add to the above.

My two cents.

Olivier :-{)

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Thanks Olivier, that’s very insightful & will really help me narrow down the way forward in terms of best option.

I will have a good look at the cost vs. benefit & usability of the various applications/hardware but already leaning towards NAS/Mosaic for the listening bit. I’m not into streaming services, just CDs, & wont have a lots of different devices pulling from the library so the idea of a simple bridge to the Lina rather than Roon fits & hopefully keeps things simple.

Thanks again for the taking the time to share your thoughts.